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Baldwin native in hunt to be first woman on the moon in NASA program

Baldwin native and NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli could

Baldwin native and NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli could be the first woman on the moon as part of a new program announced Wednesday by the space agency. Credit: NASA – Johnson Space Center / Josh Valcarcel

From Long Island to the moon?

Baldwin native Jasmin Moghbeli, 37, a former major in the U.S. Marine Corps, was among 18 astronauts selected Wednesday by NASA to form its Artemis Team, with a goal of putting a man — and the first woman ever — on the moon for the first time in nearly 48 years.

"The Artemis Team astronauts are the future of American space exploration — and that future is bright," Vice President Mike Pence said at the eighth annual National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Moghbeli, who NASA said was unavailable for an interview Wednesday, was born in Germany, after her parents immigrated there from Tehran shortly after the Iranian Revolution. When Moghbeli was an infant, the family moved to Queens and they later settled in Baldwin.

The astronaut got into her first space suit as a sixth-grader at Lenox Elementary School in North Baldwin. That's where she learned about Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian cosmonaut and the first woman in space. With her mother’s help, Moghbeli built a primitive space suit, constructed out of white windbreakers and a plastic container that served as the helmet.

"That’s when I decided I wanted to be an astronaut," Moghbeli told Newsday in 2017. "And everything I’ve learned since has solidified that for me."

Moghbeli earned a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering with information technology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School. She was a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, has logged more than 1,600 hours of flight time, and served three tours in the Middle East and Asia.

In January Moghbeli graduated from NASA's two-year astronaut training program. She was among 12 candidates selected from a record 18,000 applicants.

NASA plans to send four astronauts into space to orbit the moon in 2023. The following year it will send its first Artemis mission, comprising at least one man and one woman from the team — which could grow to include other members and international partner astronauts — to the surface of the moon, according to the agency.

"We’re excited to share this next step in exploration," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

The long-term goal is to establish a sustainable human lunar presence on the moon by the end of the decade, NASA officials said.

"Walking on the lunar surface would be a dream come true for any one of us, and any part we can play in making that happen is an honor," said Pat Forrester, the Artemis Team's chief astronaut.

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